The Workplace

How to identify top talent—and close the deal

Editor's note: This story was updated on June 1, 2017.

by Aly Seidel, Daily Briefing

Health care is in the midst of a labor shortage, and the demand for health care talent will only continue to increase over the next decade.

But while organizations are investing more in recruitment these days—by spending more on sign-on bonuses, search firms, and premium labor—those tactics haven't sufficiently moved the needle on recruitment or retention, Advisory Board expert Micha'le Simmons tells the Daily Briefing. In fact, since 2013, the average time it takes for organizations to fill a position has only gone up, and the proportion of turnover from first-year departures has increased by 28 percent.

The manager's guide to new hire onboarding

However, organizations that have revamped their recruiting playbooks to make them less employer-centric—and more candidate-centric—have seen big dividends. Simmons shares three strategies to find the right candidates and close the deal.

1. Encourage closer partnership with managers and recruiters

At the start of the hiring process, it's important for hiring managers and recruiters to operate as a team, Simmons says.

That starts with recruiters and managers being open with each other about 'need to have' versus 'nice to have' job qualifications, to avoid the all-too-common scenario of chasing after a "dream candidate" based on unrealistic expectations—leading to positions going unfilled for months.

Communication between recruiters and managers should be an ongoing process, Simmons. After interviewing a candidate, managers should send the recruiter feedback about what they did and didn't like about that person.

"In just a quick 15-minute conversation," Simmons says, "managers can adjust their expectations based on what the recruiter has been able to find in the market. Then recruiters can find the right candidate faster."

Some providers go even further. For example, Pennsylvania-based UPMC brings recruiters, who are normally off-site in a corporate office, into the hospital to meet one-on-one with hiring managers to better understand their team culture and leadership style. Some recruiters who are recruiting for a new position may even shadow employees for a few hours to learn more about the job and the type of candidate that would succeed in that role.

"When recruiters take the time to get that inside view—particularly for hard-to-fill roles—it can improve their chances of finding a candidate who not only meets the technical qualifications, but who is also a good fit for that team," Simmons says. "As an added bonus, recruiters also understand how to sell the job to a candidate because they learn first-hand what makes that team special or what's most rewarding about the job."

UPMC has been reaping the benefits on key recruiting metrics, in part because of their commitment to ensuring that recruiters have a well-rounded view of the roles they are filling. It took the national median hospital 52 days in 2015 to fill a bedside nurse position—but it took UPMC an average of just 33 days.

Get UPMC's template for recruiter role immersion

2. Equip your manager's to pitch your organization in the final interview

Your top candidate is probably another organization's top candidate, and good talent doesn't stay on the market for long. So it's important for hiring managers to use final interviews to not only screen candidates, but also to sell them on your organization.

That's a skill that some hiring managers may need to be taught. "It's not that a hiring manager doesn't want to sell the candidate, but they may not know how," Simmons says.

Washington-based Providence Health & Services helps their recruiters and hiring managers close the deal by going beyond candidates' resumes to discover what motivates them.

During the initial screen, recruiters uncover the candidate's "motivators" or what matters the most to this particular candidate such as work-life balance, commute, or their relationships with peers.

Before the final interview, recruiters share the candidate's motivators with the hiring managers along with tips on how to use them in the interview. Hiring managers can then take that information to make a personal connection, Simmons says. "For example, if an interviewee really values work-life balance, as a hiring manger I could say, 'You know, this organization really values work-life balance. I'm very close to home to pick up my kids from school, and that's important to me.'"

Help hiring managers speak to what candidates value with The Interviewer's Cheat Sheet

In addition, asking about hot-button questions can make a candidate feel valued.

"You make them feel like you know something about them that isn't on their resume—that shows interest in them as a person," Simmons says. "And that matters when you're competing for talent in a limited market."

3. Extend an offer before your competitors do

People tend to believe there's always a better candidate just about to walk through the door, and that can leave you with no talent left at the end of the day.

"Once you see a good candidate that meets the qualifications and fits your team, get an offer out," Simmons says. "Or else you will continually lose good candidates as you drag out the process and they accept offers elsewhere."

If you move candidates through the process quickly, it shows that you value them—and that may help sway them toward your organization.

"You need to give candidates a great experience from start to finish. You need to show them how your organization can deliver on what matters the most to them and why they should want to work with you—not the hospital down the street." Simmons said.

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